Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stop "That!"

Tip for the day for writers:  

Stop using "that" as much as you possibly can. 

I like to remind myself by saying, "That sounds flat."

Here are a few samples which illustrate my point:

Actually, this sentence is a perfect example. I could have said, "Here are a few samples that illustrate my point."  By choosing "which" instead of "that," the sentence flows better, sound more intelligent and helps the reader focus on the subject at hand, all which are benefits to any writer.

Anything you do to ease the reading of your work will benefit you, as the writer, the most.

Consider these examples:

"I will vote for the candidate that most closely shares my view."
"I will vote for the candidate who most closely shares my view."

Using "who" instead of "that" in this instance gives credibility to the writer's understanding of a candidate being a person and not a thing, since "who" or "that" in each instance refers back to the candidate they intend to vote for.

"Fear is a strong word that often comes out of misinformation."
"Fear is a strong word, often resulting from misinformation."

In this instance, "that" can be totally left out, making the sentence sound more intelligent, flow better and really focus on the point of the thought the writer is trying to get across. More words don't usually mean better writing. Less is better.

In your next writing project, take a look at "that" and see if you are overusing this common word.
Think of ways you can use "that" less.

Happy Writing!

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